10/17/2006 11:00PM

J'ray comes back in Valley View

J'ray goes for her fourth turf stakes win in Friday's Grade 3 Valley View.

It's time for J'ray to start playing catch-up. While her Todd Pletcher-trained stablemates, Wait a While and Magnificent Song, spent the summer soaring to the top of North America's 3-year-old filly turf division, J'ray did little more than train in the mornings and stand in her stall in the afternoons.

But when the Grade 3, $125,000 Valley View Stakes is run Friday at Keeneland, J'ray will rejoin the chase. A three-time stakes winner on grass, she will make her first start since she finished third in the April 23 Appalachian Stakes here in the spring.

"She got a little banged up in that last race at Keeneland, so we gave her a little time off for a freshening," said Pletcher assistant Michael McCarthy. "She's put a little weight on and hasn't missed a beat since we got her back."

McCarthy oversaw the development of an unraced J'ray when he ran Pletcher's Delaware Park string in 2005, and, as Pletcher's current main man at Churchill, McCarthy was charged with getting her back to the races.

"She's a great filly to be around. All class," he said.

J'ray, with John Velazquez in from New York to ride, was assigned post 12 for the 16th running of the Valley View, a 1 1/16-mile turf race that anchors a 10-race Friday card. Up to the Appalachian, J'ray had reeled off four straight victories, all on turf, including stakes triumphs in the Jessamine County at Keeneland, the Selima at Laurel Park, and the Tropical Park Oaks at Calder.

A win by J'ray would give Pletcher his 53rd in a graded stakes this year, tying the single-year record set by his former boss, D. Wayne Lukas.

His main challengers are Precious Kitten and Meribel, the one-two finishers in the Sept. 30 Martha Washington at Laurel. Precious Kitten, with Rafael Bejarano riding for trainer Dale Romans, is a half-sister to the 2004 Eclipse turf champion, Kitten's Joy.

Fringe contenders in a deep cast for the Valley View include May Night, who gets first Lasix and comes out of back-to-back Grade 1 events, and Mysterious Lina, a French invader who exits a Group 1 race at Longchamp.

The Valley View goes as the ninth race on a Friday card that also includes three allowances (races 5, 7, 8). First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.